Disciplinarity and Historiography

Subjects and academic fields are not simply given but very much a result of the production of texts and the debates triggered by them. The writings of Vasari in the 16th century for instance not only established the genre of the artist biography but also gave rise to the category of "renaissance" — a term established in the 19th century when the history of art became an academic subject. Closer to our time we have recently seen the emergence of "contemporary art" as being a distinctly different from "modern art." To contextualize current debates and give it a proper historical grounding historiographic research investigates the historical circumstances of certain fields, subjects, and methods of study. When and how do they change? How do "methods" develop?